What is Aplastic anemia? Is it life threatening? Are there any cases of death recorded till date? Yes! Aplastic anemia can be moderate, as well as severe and life threatening at times. Marie Curie, a famous pioneer in the field of radioactivity, was a victim of Aplastic anemia. She died of aplastic anemia after working with unprotected radioactive materials for over a prolonged period.
Your bone marrow is responsible for manufacturing enough blood cells to replenish the older blood cells. In aplastic anemia, your body’s bone marrow becomes incapable of producing enough blood cells. So, there will be lower counts of all the three blood cells--red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets.
The common symptoms that are associated with Aplastic anemia include:
Aplastic anemia may attack you suddenly or may progress slowly taking weeks or months. It can be acute or chronic. However, it can be life-threatening at times.
The common risk factors for Aplastic anemia include:
The major cause for Aplastic anemia is unknown. But it can be caused due to any underlying autoimmune disorder in which the white blood cells are affected.
To count the types of blood cell (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and reticulocyte) circulating in the blood, your doctor would order for blood tests. Two or three of the cell counts is a strong evidence of aplastic anemia.
To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor would order for more specific tests such as bone marrow biopsy. For this procedure, your doctor removes a sample of bone marrow from the large bone. The sample collected is then examined to rule out any other underlying causes. In the case of aplastic anemia, your bone marrow biopsy shows a fewer to normal blood cells and an increased amount of fat.
If aplastic anemia is mild without any bothersome symptoms, you may not require treatment.
But in the case of severe loss of blood cells, your symptoms would be prominent. At this instance, your doctor would order for blood and platelets transfusions. There may also be a situation where in spite of blood transfusions, you may still have very low blood cell count. This is considered to be a life-threatening condition.
Stem cell transplantation or bone marrow transplantation is recommended for the people under the age of 40 years. It works well when the donor has exactly matched brother or sister. This is called a matched sibling donor.
Immune suppressors are used to lowering your body’s immune mechanisms. This prevents your immune system from attacking your bone marrow, making bone marrow stem cells to grow, which is helpful in raising the blood counts.
Iron chelation, is a beneficial treatment if you have iron overload. Too much of iron in your body may affect red blood transfusion. So, iron chelation would be appropriate.